The singular difficulty of describing globalism is that it is an economic and political process which occurs between rather than within states, but the driving force of which are transnational corporations rather than the United Nations. In the introduction to a recent compilation of essays, "Corporate Social and Human Rights Responsibilities" (Karin Buhmann, Lynn Roseberry, Mette Morsing), "corporate social responsibility (CSR) is defined as " 'voluntary' business action". The move within the global market as defined by neoliberal theory toward congruence between the role of nation-based law and economic measurement is seen by the authors of these essays as being at the initiative of business. The interests of transnationals is in the streamlining of processes, a consideration often cited as the motivation of deregulation at the level of states. The role of the United Nations described in these essays is that of facilitator in developing international law and perhaps most interestingly accounting standards. The series of essays draws the reader through a process of understanding the role of "dialogue" between "stakeholders" (states, transnational corporations, and interests represented as or by non-governmental organization). The dialogue is metaphorical and actual, and a few of the authors note the power differentials often involved when states, institutions, companies, and interest groups operate from a more or less restricted purview and set of constraints relative to each other.

To weave things together requires identifying different strands and threads. The three main strands which the aforementioned compilation identify are those of the nation, of law and of finance. The threads which these strands share are the variously applicable concepts of the state and political context, legal systems and jurisdiction, transnational corporations, non-governmental organizations, and accounting standards.
These threads are woven into the strands of the global market, the continuum within which the "new world order" of neoliberalism develops: nation, law, and finance. The organization of these by TNCs subsumes them within the operations of the TNCs on the global stage. The result is "globalization" defined as a set of interests and functions of TNCs.

The first thread, the state and political context, is not developed within the scope of these essays. A certain conformity is assumed to already exist between states. Thus the term "state" is used somewhat axiomatically in a way which renders the concept of nationhood irrelevant to the discussion or perhaps even anachronistic. To understand the assumptions at work here I recommend another set of essays, "Globalization, Neo Conservative Policies, and Democratic Alternatives" (Ed. Akram-Lodhi, Chernomas, Sepehri). Essentially, states are the guarantor of rights despite the primary responsibility of companies (TNCs) in structuring the role of states within the framework of the global market. In other words, there is an assumed conformity of states to laying the ground for a global market in that their primary reason for existence is, in the eyes of TNCs and therefore also the UN to the extent that the Global Charter on Human Rights is applicable to TNCs, to enable the functioning of TNCs within the context of the merged domestic and international markets. It should be noted that neoconservatism has been largely the tool for rendering states indebted to transnational banking institutions (the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund). All discussion of legal and accounting standards should keep this context in mind: the creation of accounting norms formalizes the relationship of debt between sectors of the global market- a set of differences simultaneously structured for the promotion of the neoliberal agenda.

Some mention of "third world approaches to International Law" (TWAIL) is made by a couple of the contributors to the "CSHR" tome, and the concept of "reflexive law" is discussed. The notion of law as it is discussed here is similar to that of state in that differences between nations are relegated to secondary importance or rendered immaterial through the process of globalization. The interest of the TNCsin the "discourse" between stakeholders in developing reflexive and hard law in conjunction each other is obviously to emphasize the former to reflect consensus between TNCs and states expressed as "voluntary" standards for TNCs rather than requirements placed on TNCs by a state. The premise that CSR is voluntary assumes a uniformity of actual standards between states. Proponents of CSR argue that such standards are more likely to be imposed upon a state than to issue from a state's political institutions. This assumption is called into question when differences in the demographics of political power are seen as directly resulting from disparities of wealth between TNCs and foreign host states and the political constituency of a given country. While TWAIL is mentioned, the opposition of paradigm expressed through the definition of "neocolonialism" to neoliberalism is not discussed or mentioned.

Within the financial strand is the accounting thread. Most of the industrialized nations with the largest economies or within which the greatest amount of wealth is hoarded in the form of priveleged currency (e.g. Canada, Iceland, Greenland) have moved towards uniform accounting standards referred to as International Financial Accounting Standards. These standards are developed by a private institution called the International Accounting Standards Commission and its offshoot the International Accounting Standards Board. A quick check revealed that the U.S. is the only major industrialized nation not to adopt these standards. The Securities and Exchange Commission has suggested the possibility that the US participate in IFRS, especially given that many other nations such as Japan and Australia as well as the European Union have utilized them and contributed to their development.

The key categories of international law which have become integrated into accounting are environment and labor. The general concept here is that of "insurance". Companies are expected to essentially contribute to a capital fund which acts as a buffer to costs associated with projected liabilities. That is, the set-aside amount for each company may be based on the particular qualities of that company and its conditions of operation, but, the losses to a capital investor accumulated throughout the range of investments are not to exceed the amount compensated for by the added capital requirements of all investments under the terms of the IFAS.

I speculate that the lack of participation by the US in IFAS may result from the view of influential financiers that their interests are not represented by recognition of the definitions and standards required to express the real nature of private propery in units of value and the dollar currency in U.S. domestic market. I don't believe we can ignore the possibility that these standards serve the interest of US financiers when applied to what is effectively the field of investment within the neoliberal globalizing process. The evening out of differences so to speak may imply some greater degree of estimation, but the real differences do not threaten the utility of these measurements when gauged against an ongoing eroding of states' powers of measurement and regulation.

I believe the reality here is that the concept of reflexive law implies a liability of the host state of a TNC to limit liability of the investor (of whatever nation) to an amount considered mutually beneficial in some sense to both the industry and the state. The legal standards where they come in conflict with scientific standards are likely to hold more normative weight than disparate types of measurements of the same assets. The fundamental perspective of non-governmental organizations for example is not recognized as having independant authority outside of IFAS. The contribution of NGOs to IFAS therefore is likely to be one of contested measurements of value, expressed in terms of real value which may challenge ostensively long-term (if only recently implemented) financial market measurements in terms of currency. The impact of events including those not categorically or solely defined as market phenomenon such as natural or man-made disasters or labor strikes is expressed in different terms of value with respect to political or social concerns. The impact of a failed strike might be negligible to the capital investors of a company, but devastating to a community dependent upon employment by the company. The loss of equiptment due to change in ownership and dismantling of a manufacturing facility may also be negligible but have a devastating effect on a community which permanently looses a source of employment. The capital requirements devised to address vulnerability to labor and environmental regulations or legal liability may be used to facilitate change in ownership. I think these considerations reveal why the often adversarial relation between NGOs and TNCs nevertheless sees both attempting to influence and create global-scale baselines to express their interests.


some thoughts on "globalization", installment 1


nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 3 years 51 weeks ago

The new socialist prime minister of France, Hollande (lost one in Spain and Greece, gained one in France), has voiced support for French intervention in Syria. (Rebels in exile are denouncing the elections as a fraud). The mandate of the UN as a security force and/or a human rights advocate field crew legitimizes the interest of any military power capable of a large-scale excercise. One wonders whether the French have begun to debate the costs of a long-term occupation. The investment in police resources earns rights to protect assets. Foreign-owned assets are viewed as guaranteed investment opportunities. Securitized bonds which translate wealth into terms of French currency as "investment" assets. Dual citizenship for French-descent born outside France?

CIA drones over Afghanistan and exploding underwear... says does not know how they could have gotten jobs, were "full of themselves"

This article about the elections in France and Greece provides another example of the regular reporting about elections which includes the reactions by the financial sector. France will seek credit on May 16. But "fiskalpakt" knows that he waits to say au revoir...

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 2 years 31 weeks ago
Quote The Munden Project (Global Capital, Local Concessions: A Data-Driven Examination of Land Tenure Risk and Industrial Concessions in Emerging Market Economies; September 13th, 2013, pg 2):

For the past five years, the investment case for concessions or concession-based businesses in EMEs has been simple: borrow capital at rock-bottom rates to put in place projects that service booming demand from countries where they can also service debt at high interest rates. Risk has not been much of a concern; the policy has often been to shoot first and ask questions later.
This is no longer true. The Federal Reserve has been making noise about ending the quantitative easing policies which supply so much of the cheap capital that has flowed into EMEs. July and August 2013 have seen many EME currencies decline dramatically against the dollar and euro, suggesting that investors have comprehended this situation. Additionally, commodities demand appears to be declining across the board.

Read: the "1%" now control the entire global financial system, and will now further refine their methodology of extracting wealth by developing precision metrics to micro-manage an array of small-scale projects within their portfolio essential to maintaining their grip on the wealth seized through illegal and imperialist (notice how those categories overlap) land-grabbing. No doubt to be branded and marketed via public-relations campaigns featuring smiling local-folk dancing with their new i-pods. Call me cynical if you like.

The paper discusses the risk to concessions (capital investments) of competing land tenure claims within "EME"s (Emerging Market Economies).

Quote The Munden Project, pg 5:

Land tenure risk is the danger of a dispute between the concession holder and others who believe they have a legitimate claim to use the land for their own purposes, usually for reasons of traditional usage. To continue the bond analogy, it is akin to someone saying they have a more senior claim on the company’s assets than the bondholder.
Many EMEs have very different systems of land management than those seen in places like the United States, Europe or Japan. These are often called “customary tenure” systems, which are arrangements that pre-date the formalized structures of the modern nation-state.

Well, I might have to do some backdating then.

Quote The Munden Project, pg 16, 17:

And what about the moral hazard? If covered against all forms of loss, this might actually encourage the company in question to behave with even scanter regard to the tenure claims of local people, thus precipitating the insured event.
The use of PRI as credit enhancement on emerging market bonds and securitizations of these bonds is a relatively new development that seems to be sparking market interest. Rating agencies have recognized this value and noted that corporate issues enhanced with PRI (Political Risk Insurance), in principle, may qualify for improved ratings under some circumstances.
Indeed, CRAs have dedicated ratings methodologies that show exactly how risk is mitigated through PRI and how this impacts a rating.
However, none of them accurately reflects the specific risks of disruption that occur when land tenure is in dispute. It would be possible to argue that losses resulting from land tenure dispute are the fault of the government not performing on its concession contracts, and thus a form of expropriation, but there are many examples of policy holders being unable to claim on the PRI in much clearer cases of expropriation since the definition of “expropriation” is so mutable.

Also, the CIA might be involved in all this when, for example, we have had Abu Sayyaf disbanded as a result of 9-11. Also see:

Quote The Munden Project, pg 23:
Investors must take into account how far the legal rights of longstanding local inhabitants and indigenous peoples are acknowledged and protected in law, both constitutional and common. Additionally, it is important to account for how those rights can be asserted. If a local group with longstanding claims has constitutional recognition but no way to translate that onto a map, the existence of the law is not particularly useful in reducing tenure risk.

Now, I know there has been some work done to produce conceptual maps, but not only are there limitations which would make geographical representations impossible but what obligation do the land-tenure claimants have to produce these maps and why should they trust anyone else to do so? The producers of the report actually put the cost of producing such a map at fifteen to thirty cents per hectare; but what is the worth of a map produced at such a low cost and without a robust agency for mediating interpretive disputes? And what is the cost and means of pursuing such disputes? Perhaps EarthRights International or Survival International will have some thoughts on this subject; no doubt many others will.

I did not see any mention of Burma (Myanmar) in the case studies. China is mentioned in respect to the Stora Enso paper project in Guangzhi, China (Stora Enso appears to be a Danish and Swedish company). As Thom mentioned, China is investing heavily in Sudanese oil. As I mentioned above, as long as the U.S. is not participating in the accounting standards integrating risk into capital funds the cost seems to be transferred to other governments participating in the WTO/IMF scheme.

Also see:

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 2 years 31 weeks ago

And as for the much touted infrastructure development, see this via Idle No More:

On reserve education is funded at about $6,500 per student, whereas off reserve students are funded at a level of about $10,500 per student.

What Cameron said perplexes him even further is that when students who live on a reserve seek education outside of their reserve, the band has to pay the $4,000 difference."

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 2 years 30 weeks ago

Following World Bank president Jim Yong Kim’s April statement that the Bank should make “additional effort … to build capacity and safeguards related to land rights” (see Update 86), the Bank and French development agency Agence Française de Développement (AFD) released the report Securing Africa’s land for shared prosperity in July. The report noted that “unless communal and individual land rights are registered and land governance is improved, the recent surge in foreign direct investment in Sub-Saharan Africa will not generate shared and sustained growth, as disruptions will likely arise from the dispossession of local communities, and investors’ deals will face severe uncertainty or collapse”. It suggested a 10 point programme to improve land governance, including improved tenure security over communal lands and increased land access for the poor and vulnerable, for an estimated cost of $4.5 billion over 10 years.

However, according to US-based NGO Oakland Institute the programme “is nothing more than World Bank’s old paradigm of enhancing efficiency by ‘transferring land from less to more productive users at low cost.’ ” International NGO Oxfam criticised the report’s “often-repeated statements about large tracts of unused or underutilised land … as they feed into the misconception of land simply being available, whereas in reality it is difficult to find any land that someone does not have some use or other right over”. Furthermore, the report “missed a crucial opportunity to push for stronger rights for women, align national policy debates with the Voluntary Guidelines [on the Responsible Governance of Tenure], uphold human rights – and to set its own house in order.”

So we have a sort of new "Gold Rush" of sorts, except for the obvious differences in historical context.

from same article:

A June 2013 report by the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) assessed the Bank’s response to the 2007-08 food crisis, focusing in particular on the Bank’s Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP), which was launched to fast-track loans and grants, primarily to low-income countries. The report included a caution that “further evolution of the food crisis is still unclear” and that the Bank “may need to respond urgently to severe price shocks in the poorest countries in the future”. It concluded that while it was positive that the Bank had a detailed strategic framework for crisis response in place, it was not sufficient, noting “a disconnect between the intent of policy prescriptions in that paper and what was actually implemented”. This included discrepancies in ambition versus resources, “with adverse consequences for the quality of operations … at the risk that other country priorities would be neglected.” It also noted that while the Bank’s support did reach the most vulnerable countries, it was “less clear whether it reached the most vulnerable people within countries”.

Its hard not to read this as "while the investor class who created this crisis is making money hand over fist through the deregulated commodities market and various forms of bet-hedging (resulting in making money no matter what happens), we are here to provide you with loans in the case of a 'crisis'.

Furthermore, the IEG argued that the Bank’s response to the global food crisis “was restricted by pre-existing social safety net programs and systems”, and since the Bank’s primary focus had been on middle-income countries “most low-income countries were not prepared”. It also called for a “cautious approach to tariff and tax reductions as part of crisis response”, noting that: “In many cases, tariffs and taxes on staple foods were low to begin with, and rate reductions did little to help vulnerable groups in alleviating hardships of the food crisis, while aggravating the fiscal situation and threatening other government programmes.” While the Bank agreed with many of the recommendations, it pointed out that the report did “not take into account the less tangible aspects of GFRP implementation”, including “the externally funded Bank-supervised GFRP projects, worth nearly $350 million and adding additional 14 countries to the response efforts.”

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 2 years 30 weeks ago

Protests are being held across Brazil and the world this week against attempts by the Brazilian government to water down indigenous peoples’ constitutional rights in the name of the country’s push for industrialization and ‘development’.


A proposed constitutional amendment would give Brazil’s Congress – heavily influenced by the anti-indigenous farming lobby – the power to participate in the demarcation of indigenous lands. A draft bill under discussion would open up indigenous land for army bases, mining, dams and other industrial projects, and another would open up indigenous reserves to large-scale mining for the first time.

‘We decided to return to the land where three of our children, who were run over and torn apart by vehicles belonging to the ranches, are buried; where two leaders who were assassinated by gunmen employed by the ranchers, and where a 70 year old shaman who died from inhaling pesticides sprayed from a crop-spraying plane, are also buried.’


Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The government’s failure to restore land to the Guarani is shameful and illegal, and has been catastrophic for the Indians. President Rousseff is clearly in thrall to the agricultural lobby, which is immensely powerful and influential, and seems prepared to simply ignore her obligations under the law. In these circumstances, it isn’t surprising that the Guarani are taking matters into their own hands. They desperately need support, or they are likely to be evicted and attacked yet again.’

This week saw almost 1,500 Indigenous Native Brazilians from all over Brazil come together to occupy a major road in the federal capital Brasília, the Esplanade of Ministries. Their direct action brought traffic to a halt in both directions.

The National Indigenous Mobilization convened by the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB). The goal was to protest in order to stop legislation that threatens wipe out Indigenous rights in Brazil. Protesters gathered, carried signs, and even put together effigies of politicians that traditional indigenous bow masters shot arrows at!

The proposed amendments to the Constitution (PECs) include numbers 038/99, 215/00 and 237/13, Bill 1610/96, the bill for Complementary Law (PLP) 227/12, and the Portarias (ministerial orders) 419/11 and 7957/13. A summary of the bills was circulated via the support communities on social media for Chief Raoni

  • PEC 38 would give the Senate power to approve processes of demarcation of Indigenous lands, determining that “the demarcation of Indigenous lands or units of environmental conservation respect the maximum limit of 30% of the surface area of each state”;
  • PEC 215 gives Congress exclusive authority to decide the boundaries of all Indigenous lands;
  • PEC 237 permits the possession of Indigenous lands by rural producers;
  • PLP 227 limits federal lands that can be used for demarcation;
  • Portaria 419 intends to streamline the licensing of public projects by means of the reduction of Indigenous rights, of the rights of traditional communities and of the environment;
  • Portaria 7957 creates the Environmental Operations Company of the National Force of Public Security to permit the use of military force against Indigenous Peoples who oppose the large-scale projects of the PAC (Program for Acceleration of Growth), especially hydroelectric dams;
  • PL 1610, allows mining in Indigenous lands.
nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 2 years 29 weeks ago

Here is something from the "food issue" of Scientific American published in September of this year, which I am including here as an opportunity to expand on the concept of "metrics". You'll see implication I think, as I do, that multiple sets of metrics must be mastered in order to integrate a "best practices" regimen with a "robust model":

Quote In "superdirt- microbiology- Enlisting bacteria and fungi from the soil to support crop plants is a promising alternative to the heavy use of fertilizer and pesticides", Richard Conniff:

Many products that do make it into the field are ineffective because they have not been adequately tested or because they are manufactured carelessly, perhaps fraudulently. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria has tested 106 different farm products, most of them microbial. All but five failed because they did not contain the active ingredient on the label, they did not have enough of it, or they were not effective in greenhouse and field trials.

Many of the flawed products come from Europe, the U.S. and Japan. Rather than taking on the manufacturers, IITA is training regulators in the target countries to do their own quality testing. The institute is also developing a seal of approval to let buyers know when a product meets reasonable standards. The program aims to help farmers understand not just which microbial products work but where and under what circumstances.

Getting farmers to understand the new rules of the agribiome is "going to be incredibly complicated," says Ann Reid, director of the American Academy of Microbiology, but it will also be "very cool." It means convincing farmers that their work is not a simple business of inputs and outputs-some water here, some pesticides there. Instead it means waking up to what farming has always been-a collaboration with the vast community of microbes. If farmers and scientists together can get that right, we will have come a step closer to feeding a hungry world.

I think its safe to assume that genetic engineering will play a part in this aspect of the "agribiome". What implications, if any, there are along the lines of biodiversity is a question. The ability of local populations to regulate not only product quality of imports but the manufacture or that type of product is another question. Arguably, given that the food supply is a product which gets distributed around the world, popular pressure may have a constructive role to play as these types of issues unfold. Kenya, for example, has banned GMOs as has Peru. Even if one is not opposed to GMOs (of the Monsanto variety of course) one might admit that the "consumer" has gained a status irrespective of nationality, a status that can however obtain results within the nation state framework of law and regulation.

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